In perhaps the most 2018-y story of 2018, an aquarium has issued a heartfelt apology for a Twitter post they made fat-shaming an otter.
Writing on Twitter, the Monterey Bay Aquarium posted a picture of one of their otters with several common Internet phrases, including "Abby is a thicc girl", "what an absolute unit", and "OH LAWD SHE COMIN".
"Seariously tho, Abby is looking fit for one of the toughest jobs in the world: Raising stranded sea otter pups!" they followed up. "She's one of six resident females that train orphaned otters in the necessary skills to survive back in the wild. There's a lot more to this sea otter than meets the eye!"
People were initially quite pleased with the tweet, and praised it.
However, this is 2018 and that's not where the story ends.
Before long, the zoo was accused of fat-shaming and cultural appropriation. The phrases they used, which many people now just think are nonsense Internetisms (like "pupper" instead of "dog", "boi" instead of "boy", or "floaty potato" instead of "manatee"), actually have their root in African American Vernacular, which the zoo was unaware of. Many people contacted the aquarium for using these phrases about an otter.
"I'm certain that [the aquarium] didn't realize that they were basically comparing black women to animals by using AVE developed to talk about black women's bodies to describe an animal," one person wrote. "But that's pretty bad."
The aquarium were apologetic after the backlash, in a heartfelt apology thread.
"Hey everyone. It has come to our attention that some of the references in this tweet are problematic and insensitive. We're posting here in the thread so that people who have engaged with this tweet will join us in our learning moment.
If our tweet alienated you, please know that we are deeply sorry, and that we offer our sincerest apologies. If you follow our feed, we often reference popular memes to talk about the ocean. In this case, the memes used had connotations we were unaware of until now.
In particular, several terms referenced originated from African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and specifically reference Black women's bodies. Using them in a sea otter meme without that background makes insinuations we never intended. We need to do better.
Our mission is to inspire conservation of the ocean, and we're thankful for your support as we try to advance that mission on social media. We're also thankful for those of you out there pointing out our blind spots and how we can improve. Thanks, everyone."
Fortunately, that solved the matter. The zoo learned from their mistake, apologized, and everybody has moved on with their lives. Haha no, we're just kidding, everybody is still mad as hell.
The otter has yet to release a statement.